Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5228
Over the winter and spring of 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a general assessment of the capabilities of several geophysical tools to delineate buried paleochannel aquifers in the glacial terrain of eastern Nebraska. Mapping these paleochannels is an important objective for the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment group. Previous attempts at mapping these channels included a helicopter electromagnetic survey flown over an area near the town of Oakland, Nebraska, in March 2007. This survey had limited success in imaging the paleochannels due to the restricted depth of investigation of the system in the clay-rich till overburden. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether other airborne electromagnetic or surface geophysical techniques, including audio-magnetotelluric, time-domain electromagnetic, gravity, and magnetic methods, could be used to image the paleochannels in the clay-rich tills of eastern Nebraska. This report releases the results of testing the ability of selected geophysical techniques to map aquifers in glacial deposits near the town of Oakland, Nebraska.
Surface audio-magnetotelluric and time-domain electromagnetic methods achieved sufficient depth of penetration and indicated that the paleochannel was much more complex than the original geological model. Simulated and observed gravity anomalies indicate that imaging sand and gravel aquifers near Oakland, Nebraska, would be difficult due to the complex basement density contrasts. Interpretation of the magnetic data indicates no magnetic sources from geologic units above the bedrock surface. Based upon the analysis and interpretation of the four methods evaluated, we suggest a large-scale survey using a high-powered time-domain airborne system. This is the most efficient and cost-effective path forward for the Eastern Nebraska Water Assessment group to map paleochannels that lie beneath thick clay-rich glacial tills.
First posted May 14, 2012
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Abraham, J.D., Bedrosian, P.A., Asch, T.H., Ball, L.B., Cannia, J.C., Phillips, J.D., and Lackey, Susan, 2012, Evaluation of geophysical techniques for the detection of paleochannels in the Oakland area of eastern Nebraska as part of the Eastern Nebraska Water Resource Assessment: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5228, 40 p.
Methods of Investigation
Results of Investigation
Summary and Discussion